Feb. 11, 2009
By Jim Robertson
Columbia Daily Tribune
A new organization for people who want to promote government openness at all levels in Missouri will hold a public reception and program on Thursday, March 12, in Columbia. The event is free.
The Missouri Sunshine Coalition is seeking individual and organization members from all areas of the public. It will hold a 2 p.m. reception and 3 p.m. program at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the School of Journalism at MU.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has been invited to speak at the 3 p.m. program. Other speakers will be Charles Davis, director of the National Freedom of Information Center, which is based at the School of Journalism; and Mike Wood, director of governmental relations for the Missouri State Teachers Association.
The group’s founders have met three times to elect a board of directors, to approve bylaws and a mission statement, and to plan the March 12 program. On Jan. 15 the group elected Jim Robertson, managing editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune, president.
Until now, Missouri was one of the few states in the country that did not have an organization whose mission is to promote government transparency. This group hopes to bring together all individuals and organizations in Missouri who want to minimize secrecy in the operations of local and state government agencies.
Following is the Mission Statement of the Missouri Sunshine Coalition, Inc.
1. Members of the Missouri Sunshine Coalition believe the best form of government is that which operates in a free and open environment, giving its citizens unfettered access to information as to its activities and the use of its public funds.
2. We believe government exists to serve its citizens and access to such information should be simple and at minimal cost.
3. The Missouri Sunshine Coalition exists to support citizens of this State in their efforts to exercise their rights under the Missouri Sunshine Law, which is premised on the foundation that “It is the public policy of this state that meetings, records, votes, actions and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law.”
Serving the Coalition with Robertson are Vice President Jo Sapp, Columbia, League of Women Voters; Secretary Jean Maneke, Kansas City, an attorney who is an expert on the Missouri Sunshine Law; and Treasurer Mike Sherry, Kansas City, Kansas City Business Journal.
Members of the Board of Directors are Jean Buchanan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Jack Whitaker, Hannibal Courier-Post; Don Hicks, Jefferson City, Missouri Broadcasters Association; Brenda Jones, St Louis, American Civil Liberties Union of eastern Missouri; and Randy Picht, Kansas City, The Associated Press.
The officers and directors were chosen from among those who attended the organizational meetings of the Coalition.
Membership in the coalition costs $25 for an organization or individual.
For more information on membership or to RSVP for the March 12 event, please contact Kristie Williams, email@example.com, 573-449-4167.